Portal:Speculative fiction/Horror

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Horror fiction is a genre of fiction in any medium intended to scare, unsettle and horrify the audience. Historically, the cause of the "horror" experience has often been the intrusion of a disturbing supernatural element into everyday human experience. Since the 1960s, any work of fiction with a morbid, gruesome, surreal, or exceptionally suspenseful or frightening theme has come to be called "horror". Horror fiction often overlaps science fiction or fantasy, all three categories of which are sometimes placed under the umbrella classification speculative fiction.

Haunting is sometimes used as a plot device in horror fiction and paranormal-based fiction. Legends about haunted houses have long appeared in literature. For example, the Arabian Nights tale of "Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad" revolves around a house haunted by djinns. The influence of the Arabian Nights on modern horror fiction is certainly discernible in some of the work of H. P. Lovecraft.

Achievements in horror fiction are recognized by numerous awards. The Horror Writer's Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror novel Dracula. The Australian Horror Writers Association presents annual Australian Shadows Awards. The International Horror Guild Award was presented annually to works of horror and dark fantasy from 1995 to 2008. Other important awards for horror literature are as subcategories included within general awards for fantasy and science fiction in such awards as the Aurealis Award.

Zombies are a popular feature in many horror works.

Selected horror profile

Lugosi in the 1940 film The Devil Bat
Béla Lugosi (20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956) was a Hungarian actor of stage and screen, well known for playing Count Dracula in the Broadway play and subsequent film version. In the last years of his career he featured in several of Ed Wood's low budget films.

Through his association with Dracula (in which he appeared with minimal makeup, using his natural, heavily accented voice), Lugosi found himself typecast as a horror villain in such movies as Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Raven, and Son of Frankenstein for Universal, and the independent White Zombie. His accent, while a part of his image, limited the roles he could play.

Lugosi did attempt to break type by auditioning for other roles. He lost out to Lionel Barrymore for the role of Rasputin in Rasputin and the Empress; C. Henry Gordon for the role of Surat Khan in Charge of the Light Brigade; Basil Rathbone for the role of Commissar Dimitri Gorotchenko in Tovarich (a role Lugosi had played on stage).

It is an erroneous popular belief that Lugosi declined the offer to appear in Frankenstein. Lugosi may not have been happy with the onerous makeup job and lack of dialogue, but was still willing to play the part. Nonetheless, James Whale, the film's director, replaced Lugosi and would do this again in Bride of Frankenstein (Lugosi was supposed to play the role of Dr. Pretorius).

Selected horror work

The Pit and the Pendulum is a 1961 horror film directed by Roger Corman, starring Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, John Kerr, and Luana Anders. The screenplay by Richard Matheson was based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name. Set in 16th century Spain, the story is about a young Englishman who visits a forbidding castle to investigate his sister's mysterious death. After a series of horrific revelations, apparently ghostly appearances and violent deaths, the young man becomes strapped to the titular torture device by his lunatic brother-in-law during the film's climactic sequence.

The film was the second title in the popular series of Poe-based movies released by American International Pictures, the first having been Corman’s House of Usher released the previous year. Like House, the film features widescreen cinematography by Floyd Crosby, sets designed by art director Daniel Haller, and a film score composed by Les Baxter. A critical and box office hit, Pit's commercial success convinced AIP and Corman to continue adapting Poe stories for another six films, five of them starring Price. The series ended in 1965 with the release of The Tomb of Ligeia.

Film critic Tim Lucas and writer Ernesto Gastaldi have both noted the film’s strong influence on numerous subsequent Italian thrillers, from Mario Bava’s The Whip and the Body (1963) to Dario Argento’s Deep Red (1975). Stephen King has described one of Pit’s major shock sequences as being among the most important moments in the post-1960 horror film.

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